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Author Topic: Armenian vs. Coptic Theology  (Read 7191 times) Average Rating: 0
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Orthodox11
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« on: April 12, 2009, 05:33:11 PM »

In another thread there has been debate over certain non-Christological issues that separate the Coptic Church from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the most controversial issue being theosis (Pope Shenouda's banning of Fr. Anthony Coniaris's book, for example). I've also noticed that salvation tends to be spoken of only in juridical terms in Coptic circles - Christ sacrificing Himself to the Father to satisfy divine Justice. I'm not suggesting the Coptic Church has an Anselmian view of salvation, where all the other aspects of the Incarnation are ignored, but there is a clear difference in emphasis between the Coptic and EO, at least among the clergy and laity that I have encountered.

I was wondering if someone could offer some insight into the Armenian (and Syrian and Ethiopic for that matter) positions on these issues, in particular any writings by H.H. Karekin, and how they compare to both the Coptic and EO traditions, even if it's just a matter of emphasis.
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2009, 07:37:55 PM »

In another thread there has been debate over certain non-Christological issues that separate the Coptic Church from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the most controversial issue being theosis (Pope Shenouda's banning of Fr. Anthony Coniaris's book, for example). I've also noticed that salvation tends to be spoken of only in juridical terms in Coptic circles - Christ sacrificing Himself to the Father to satisfy divine Justice. I'm not suggesting the Coptic Church has an Anselmian view of salvation, where all the other aspects of the Incarnation are ignored, but there is a clear difference in emphasis between the Coptic and EO, at least among the clergy and laity that I have encountered.

I was wondering if someone could offer some insight into the Armenian (and Syrian and Ethiopic for that matter) positions on these issues, in particular any writings by H.H. Karekin, and how they compare to both the Coptic and EO traditions, even if it's just a matter of emphasis.

I am not aware of any theological differences between the Coptic and Armenian Churches.

With regard to theosis, I think the controversy over Father Coniaris' book had to do with the terminology and how it translates into Arabic.  This has been discussed in a couple of threads here.  The Armenian Church, like the Coptic Church, believes in theosis.  See reply 19 of this thread for Ghazar's explanation:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,5978.msg77826.html#msg77826

With regard to salvation, look at this thread, particularly posts 7, 13, 39 and 52:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13288.0.html


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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2009, 07:52:31 PM »

In another thread there has been debate over certain non-Christological issues that separate the Coptic Church from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the most controversial issue being theosis (Pope Shenouda's banning of Fr. Anthony Coniaris's book, for example). I've also noticed that salvation tends to be spoken of only in juridical terms in Coptic circles - Christ sacrificing Himself to the Father to satisfy divine Justice. I'm not suggesting the Coptic Church has an Anselmian view of salvation, where all the other aspects of the Incarnation are ignored, but there is a clear difference in emphasis between the Coptic and EO, at least among the clergy and laity that I have encountered.

I was wondering if someone could offer some insight into the Armenian (and Syrian and Ethiopic for that matter) positions on these issues, in particular any writings by H.H. Karekin, and how they compare to both the Coptic and EO traditions, even if it's just a matter of emphasis.
There is no difference between the Armenian and Coptic understanding on the matter.  Several months back, I had opportunity to discuss this issue in another Forum and I posted the texts from websites of the Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac Churches on the doctrine of Atonement.  Would you like me to look for them and post them here?

Blessings,
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2009, 08:04:15 PM »

Several months back, I had opportunity to discuss this issue in another Forum and I posted the texts from websites of the Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac Churches on the doctrine of Atonement.  Would you like me to look for them and post them here?

As you have just pointed out in the thread on Immaculate Conception, unless such documents are official statements issued by Councils they don't have standing.  Probably better not to burden us with questionable and possibly misleading material.

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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2009, 08:13:45 PM »

Several months back, I had opportunity to discuss this issue in another Forum and I posted the texts from websites of the Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac Churches on the doctrine of Atonement.  Would you like me to look for them and post them here?

As you have just pointed out in the thread on Immaculate Conception, unless such documents are official statements issued by Councils they don't have standing.  Probably better not to burden us with questionable and possibly misleading material.
I'm not going to pretend that the standards for Catholics are the same as the standards for the Orthodox.  As a Catholic, I always refer people to magisterial documents if they want to find out about the CC.  Perhaps an Orthodox person would be satisfied with documents from websites that formally represent the various OO Traditions.  I am, btw, referring to statements by hierarchs contained in the websites.

Humbly,
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2009, 08:38:40 PM »

Marduk,

I can only infer that Orthodox11 posted his request here in the OO section because he wants an answer from a real life OO.  You are not an OO, and lately you have been misrepresenting what we believe.  I am going to therefore ask that you refrain from responding to his request.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2009, 10:25:38 PM »

I am not aware of any theological differences between the Coptic and Armenian Churches.

I'm not really looking for theological differences as such, but rather differences in the way theological concepts are discussed and presented in the Coptic and Armenian churches, differences in emphasis, etc. and how their respective positions compares to that of the EO churches.
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2009, 10:28:33 PM »

There is no difference between the Armenian and Coptic understanding on the matter.  Several months back, I had opportunity to discuss this issue in another Forum and I posted the texts from websites of the Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac Churches on the doctrine of Atonement.  Would you like me to look for them and post them here?

If they're by senior bishops, and not random priests, then I would be interested to see what they have to say. If they're huge chunks of texts, a link will suffice.

Thank you
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2009, 02:12:00 PM »

In another thread there has been debate over certain non-Christological issues that separate the Coptic Church from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the most controversial issue being theosis (Pope Shenouda's banning of Fr. Anthony Coniaris's book, for example). I've also noticed that salvation tends to be spoken of only in juridical terms in Coptic circles - Christ sacrificing Himself to the Father to satisfy divine Justice. I'm not suggesting the Coptic Church has an Anselmian view of salvation, where all the other aspects of the Incarnation are ignored, but there is a clear difference in emphasis between the Coptic and EO, at least among the clergy and laity that I have encountered.

I was wondering if someone could offer some insight into the Armenian (and Syrian and Ethiopic for that matter) positions on these issues, in particular any writings by H.H. Karekin, and how they compare to both the Coptic and EO traditions, even if it's just a matter of emphasis.

I am not aware of any theological differences between the Coptic and Armenian Churches.

With regard to theosis, I think the controversy over Father Coniaris' book had to do with the terminology and how it translates into Arabic.  This has been discussed in a couple of threads here.  The Armenian Church, like the Coptic Church, believes in theosis.  See reply 19 of this thread for Ghazar's explanation:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,5978.msg77826.html#msg77826

With regard to salvation, look at this thread, particularly posts 7, 13, 39 and 52:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13288.0.html




I think there is some confusion between theosis and theopoiesis.  While I will admit there are those in the Coptic church teaching theosis these days, it is not a part of traditional Coptic theology, and to my knowledge (I haven't studied the specifics of modern Armenian theology - if such a thing actually exists) it is the same with the Armenian church.  The problem is that you can't even ask a priest about it because few know much about it and assume that theosis and theopoiesis are the same thing because this is how almost all English literature and EO literature has positioned them. I began to study the topic of theopoiesis from the works of Athanasius and Cyril without the commentary of historians and was appalled when I finally learned about theosis and that people were teaching them as synonymous. 

Theosis is becoming God by ascension through meditation and spiritual elevation and appears to include sharing in the divine substance when we finally reach full communion with God in Heaven.  In theosis we become one with God by becoming a part of God.

Theopoiesis, is the being made a god through sonship by adoption.  We unite with Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb and the sonship which Christ has is transmitted to us only because of our connection to Him, much like the magnetic properties are transmitted to a piece of steel when it unites with a magnet.  We do not become what God is but we become one with Him as a married couple becomes one.
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2009, 02:15:39 PM »

This is another good thread on the subject matter:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12652.0.html

Concerning the question of "juridical view" of salvation, I think the real juridical view we hold is not Anselmian.  The extent to the juridical view we hold is Athanasian.  I think there are even many Catholics who reject the Anselmian/Aquinas ideas.

In another thread, EA mentioned "Western Captivity."  Some Copts have been showing that ever since the French and English took over, many Copts seem to get their education from certain Western sources, which may be the culprit being the "Western Captivity."  As more and more Copts are reading from the Church fathers however, there is a realization that this does not reflect true Coptic theology.

This whole debate of theosis vs. theopoiesis is ridiculous to me.  There's nothing more potent than the saying "God became man so that man might become God," which comes from none other than Alexandrian theologians.

God bless.
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2009, 02:25:09 PM »

It will come as a surprise to some, but St Athanasius spoke of theopoiesis not theosis.  The problem here lies in that the same English word is used to translate both Greek words, deify.  As Jonathan mentioned in another thread, there is now an increase in discussion on this topic, but even if you Google it you won't find much on the subject.
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2009, 02:31:46 PM »

In another thread there has been debate over certain non-Christological issues that separate the Coptic Church from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the most controversial issue being theosis (Pope Shenouda's banning of Fr. Anthony Coniaris's book, for example). I've also noticed that salvation tends to be spoken of only in juridical terms in Coptic circles - Christ sacrificing Himself to the Father to satisfy divine Justice. I'm not suggesting the Coptic Church has an Anselmian view of salvation, where all the other aspects of the Incarnation are ignored, but there is a clear difference in emphasis between the Coptic and EO, at least among the clergy and laity that I have encountered.

I was wondering if someone could offer some insight into the Armenian (and Syrian and Ethiopic for that matter) positions on these issues, in particular any writings by H.H. Karekin, and how they compare to both the Coptic and EO traditions, even if it's just a matter of emphasis.

I am not aware of any theological differences between the Coptic and Armenian Churches.

With regard to theosis, I think the controversy over Father Coniaris' book had to do with the terminology and how it translates into Arabic.  This has been discussed in a couple of threads here.  The Armenian Church, like the Coptic Church, believes in theosis.  See reply 19 of this thread for Ghazar's explanation:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,5978.msg77826.html#msg77826

With regard to salvation, look at this thread, particularly posts 7, 13, 39 and 52:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13288.0.html




I think there is some confusion between theosis and theopoiesis.  While I will admit there are those in the Coptic church teaching theosis these days, it is not a part of traditional Coptic theology, and to my knowledge (I haven't studied the specifics of modern Armenian theology - if such a thing actually exists) it is the same with the Armenian church.  The problem is that you can't even ask a priest about it because few know much about it and assume that theosis and theopoiesis are the same thing because this is how almost all English literature and EO literature has positioned them. I began to study the topic of theopoiesis from the works of Athanasius and Cyril without the commentary of historians and was appalled when I finally learned about theosis and that people were teaching them as synonymous. 

Theosis is becoming God by ascension through meditation and spiritual elevation and appears to include sharing in the divine substance when we finally reach full communion with God in Heaven.  In theosis we become one with God by becoming a part of God.
Do you mean sharing His Essence?
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2009, 02:34:58 PM »

Theosis is becoming God by ascension through meditation and spiritual elevation and appears to include sharing in the divine substance when we finally reach full communion with God in Heaven.  In theosis we become one with God by becoming a part of God.

Theopoiesis, is the being made a god through sonship by adoption.  We unite with Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb and the sonship which Christ has is transmitted to us only because of our connection to Him, much like the magnetic properties are transmitted to a piece of steel when it unites with a magnet.  We do not become what God is but we become one with Him as a married couple becomes one.

But going by your above definitions, the EO teach theopoiesis, and not theosis. The sharing in the divine energies is not the same as sharing in the divine essence of God, and the most common analogies used to explain it are essentially the same as the one you provided to explain theopoiesis.
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2009, 02:35:40 PM »

Perhaps the neglect of theosis in the Armenian/Coptic traditions has something to do with the different Christology. The Armenians teach that Christ has one nature, in which the human nature is swallowed up by the divine. The Orthodox Greeks teach that Christ has two natures, human and divine, and neither is swallowed up by the other nature. Therefore in the Orthodox understanding, communion with Christ allows us to partake of the divine nature, since Christ perfectly unites the human with the divine. The Armenian understanding appears to set up an insuperable barrier between the divine and the human.
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2009, 02:38:43 PM »

Perhaps the neglect of theosis in the Armenian/Coptic traditions has something to do with the different Christology. The Armenians teach that Christ has one nature, in which the human nature is swallowed up by the divine. The Orthodox Greeks teach that Christ has two natures, human and divine, and neither is swallowed up by the other nature. Therefore in the Orthodox understanding, communion with Christ allows us to partake of the divine nature, since Christ perfectly unites the human with the divine. The Armenian understanding appears to set up an insuperable barrier between the divine and the human.

The Armenians do not teach this, as anyone from that tradition will gladly confirm. So whatever our respective Christologies may say about theosis, your above point is moot.
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2009, 02:39:51 PM »

Perhaps the neglect of theosis in the Armenian/Coptic traditions has something to do with the different Christology. The Armenians teach that Christ has one nature, in which the human nature is swallowed up by the divine. The Orthodox Greeks teach that Christ has two natures, human and divine, and neither is swallowed up by the other nature. Therefore in the Orthodox understanding, communion with Christ allows us to partake of the divine nature, since Christ perfectly unites the human with the divine. The Armenian understanding appears to set up an insuperable barrier between the divine and the human.
I don't think you'll find too many Armenians that will agree with your interpretation of their theology.
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« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2009, 02:51:21 PM »

Perhaps the neglect of theosis in the Armenian/Coptic traditions has something to do with the different Christology. The Armenians teach that Christ has one nature, in which the human nature is swallowed up by the divine. The Orthodox Greeks teach that Christ has two natures, human and divine, and neither is swallowed up by the other nature. Therefore in the Orthodox understanding, communion with Christ allows us to partake of the divine nature, since Christ perfectly unites the human with the divine. The Armenian understanding appears to set up an insuperable barrier between the divine and the human.

I agree with others here.  Copts and Armenians do not believe what you say we believe.  Perhaps, you should ask an Armenian/Copt before you assume what they believe in.
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« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2009, 03:08:09 PM »

Gregory Nazianzen, from his 21st oration:

Whoever has been permitted to escape by reason and contemplation
from matter and this fleshly cloud or veil (whichever it should be
called) and to hold communion with God, and be associated, as far as
man's nature can attain, with the purest Light, blessed is he, both from
his ascent from hence, and for his theosis there, which is conferred by
true philosophy, and by rising superior to the dualism of matter,
through the unity which is perceived in the Trinity.

St Athanasius, Four Discourses against the Arians:

it follows that He had not promotion from His descent , but rather Himself promoted the things which needed promotion; and if He descended to affect their promotion, therefore He did not receive in reward the name of the Son and God, but rather He Himself has made us sons of the Father, and deified (etheopoiese - past tense) men by becoming Himself man.

Gregory speaks of theosis and the ascent of man and it being attainable by man's nature and further equates it with "true philosophy"; but Athansius speaks of theopoiesis and the descent of Christ in order to promote us.  These are not the same doctrines.
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2009, 03:12:29 PM »

Gregory Nazianzen, from his 21st oration:

Whoever has been permitted to escape by reason and contemplation
from matter and this fleshly cloud or veil (whichever it should be
called) and to hold communion with God, and be associated, as far as
man's nature can attain, with the purest Light, blessed is he, both from
his ascent from hence, and for his theosis there, which is conferred by
true philosophy, and by rising superior to the dualism of matter,
through the unity which is perceived in the Trinity.

St Athanasius, Four Discourses against the Arians:

it follows that He had not promotion from His descent , but rather Himself promoted the things which needed promotion; and if He descended to affect their promotion, therefore He did not receive in reward the name of the Son and God, but rather He Himself has made us sons of the Father, and deified (etheopoiese - past tense) men by becoming Himself man.

Gregory speaks of theosis and the ascent of man and it being attainable by man's nature and further equates it with "true philosophy"; but Athansius speaks of theopoiesis and the descent of Christ in order to promote us.  These are not the same doctrines.

Christ descends in order to elevate man. "As far as man's nature can attain" refers precisely to the impossibility of union with the Divine essence, and only to the partaking of His energies (a la the steel+magnet analogy you offered previously). I fail to see a difference here.
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« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2009, 03:30:57 PM »

The fact that Gregory says it can be attained by reason and contemplation and ascension is completely opposed to Athanasius' descent by Christ in order to promote not to mention Platonic.  This was just an example I came up with quickly in order to illustrate the difference between the Cappadocian fathers and the Alexandrian fathers - the fact that they use different terms and illustrate them differently suggests at the onset of examination that they are indeed different teachings - I'm not going to convince anyone here even if I wrote a book on it and posted it, the best I can do is plant the seed so that hopefully people will do their own investigation and learn the truth.  I suppose posting my point in an on-line forum and then not vehemently defending it defeats the purpose of posting it to begin with, but I already know where this is going and I don't think the back-and-forth circular arguments glorifies God or edifies His church.  When people are receptive to it, I will post more, but I do not want to fall into sin or cause others to either.  I think there are some books on the topic, I will find out more for those who are interested.
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« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2009, 03:41:11 PM »

The fact that Gregory says it can be attained by reason and contemplation and ascension is completely opposed to Athanasius' descent by Christ in order to promote not to mention Platonic. 

I think you are presenting a false dichotomy here. To say that something is attainable by reason, contemplation, prayer and ascension does not exclude the fact that it is made possible only by the descent of Christ.
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« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2009, 03:44:29 PM »

Perhaps the neglect of theosis in the Armenian/Coptic traditions has something to do with the different Christology. The Armenians teach that Christ has one nature, in which the human nature is swallowed up by the divine. The Orthodox Greeks teach that Christ has two natures, human and divine, and neither is swallowed up by the other nature. Therefore in the Orthodox understanding, communion with Christ allows us to partake of the divine nature, since Christ perfectly unites the human with the divine. The Armenian understanding appears to set up an insuperable barrier between the divine and the human.
Can you quote something from an Armenian or a Copt that teaches this?

Because I can quote plenty that they do not.

The fact that Gregory says it can be attained by reason and contemplation and ascension is completely opposed to Athanasius' descent by Christ in order to promote not to mention Platonic. 

I think you are presenting a false dichotomy here. To say that something is attainable by reason, contemplation, prayer and ascension does not exclude the fact that it is made possible only by the descent of Christ.

I concur (also with your Armenian/Coptic comment, btw).  I would expect that a quote from St. Gregory more in line with St. Athanasius is to be had.
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« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2009, 03:50:06 PM »

Several months back, I had opportunity to discuss this issue in another Forum and I posted the texts from websites of the Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac Churches on the doctrine of Atonement.  Would you like me to look for them and post them here?

As you have just pointed out in the thread on Immaculate Conception, unless such documents are official statements issued by Councils they don't have standing.  Probably better not to burden us with questionable and possibly misleading material.


why do we not have a "yawn" emoticon?
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« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2009, 08:31:10 PM »

Perhaps the neglect of theosis in the Armenian/Coptic traditions has something to do with the different Christology. The Armenians teach that Christ has one nature, in which the human nature is swallowed up by the divine.

Jonathan,

This is a gross misstatement of my Church's Christology.  Unfortunately, however, it is also a very commonly made misstatement.  I am going to therefore assume you didn't know any better. 

We have a private forum where OO and EO Christology may be debated.  If that is something you want to do, you may apply to Fr. Chris for admission to the private forum.
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« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2009, 08:35:45 PM »

With regard to theosis in the Armenian Church, we probably don't discuss it or even emphasize it as much as the EO's do.  However, we do believe in it.  I recall a lecture by a deacon at my church a while back, where he taught about it and he used the phrase by St. Athanasius.  This deacon had just graduated from St. Nerses Seminary and is now a priest.  It surprises me that anyone would think it is not a belief of the OO Church.
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« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2009, 08:51:07 PM »

With regard to theosis in the Armenian Church, we probably don't discuss it or even emphasize it as much as the EO's do.  However, we do believe in it.  I recall a lecture by a deacon at my church a while back, where he taught about it and he used the phrase by St. Athanasius.  This deacon had just graduated from St. Nerses Seminary and is now a priest.  It surprises me that anyone would think it is not a belief of the OO Church.

Me neither.  I never thought people would ever dispute St. Gregory the Theologian of all people.  St. Severus looked up to him as a true father as to St. Athanasius.
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« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2009, 09:04:37 PM »

With regard to theosis in the Armenian Church, we probably don't discuss it or even emphasize it as much as the EO's do.  However, we do believe in it.  I recall a lecture by a deacon at my church a while back, where he taught about it and he used the phrase by St. Athanasius.  This deacon had just graduated from St. Nerses Seminary and is now a priest.  It surprises me that anyone would think it is not a belief of the OO Church.

There was an awfully bitter row for years between Father Matta El Meskeen (memory eternal!) and Pope Shenouda over the topic of theosis.  I remember it was discussed on CAF.  Pope Shenouda has published 8 booklets which, IIRC, are not in favour of theosis, or maybe not in favour of Father Matta's teaching of theosis?  Is anybody able to give us the details about this?  What exactly caused the row?
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« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2009, 09:08:08 PM »

Me neither.  I never thought people would ever dispute St. Gregory the Theologian of all people.  St. Severus looked up to him as a true father as to St. Athanasius.

Marc's sentiments reflect what I've heard from many Copts and (second hand) Pope Shenouda himself though. So far, it seems to me to be the repudiation of a theosis straw man, followed by an affirmation of a doctrine of theosis that any EO would be happy with, but under a different name. But it's clearly an issue of much dispute, which is why I was interested in the way in which the Armenian hierarchy approached the issue.
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« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2009, 09:10:48 PM »

With regard to theosis in the Armenian Church, we probably don't discuss it or even emphasize it as much as the EO's do.  However, we do believe in it.  I recall a lecture by a deacon at my church a while back, where he taught about it and he used the phrase by St. Athanasius.  This deacon had just graduated from St. Nerses Seminary and is now a priest.  It surprises me that anyone would think it is not a belief of the OO Church.

Do you have anything on the topic by a senior hierarch? I'd be interested in seeing the way in which they explains the issue, and the authorities he appeals to.
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« Reply #29 on: April 13, 2009, 09:13:04 PM »

I don't know of anything in writing on the matter by an Armenian author, unfortunately.
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« Reply #30 on: April 13, 2009, 09:17:02 PM »

why do we not have a "yawn" emoticon?


http://www.emotihost.com/yawn.gif
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« Reply #31 on: April 13, 2009, 10:37:50 PM »

HH Pope Shenouda writes in his book "Return of the Spirit:"

Quote
We cannot know by ourselves.. but we want-through Your grace- to prepare ourselves to know You.. This knowledge comes from You.. through what You reveal to us, not through any mental or even spiritual effort on our behalf.  Any striving of our minds and souls, though necessary, is just a kind of prayer or supplication.  Such striving is a means through which the cloud may fill the House, and the fire burn in the bush and so God may reveal Himself and every heart would give worship in awe and sing thankfully saying ‘You gave me the gift of knowing You'

One wonders what is the cloud, if not the Shekinah glory of God, and what is the "Fire in the Bush" if not the divine fire in our hearts that comes from the knowledge we seek from the Lord?

This is the same Coptic Church who sings "...the Theotokos Saint Mary, carried the Fire of Divinity, nine months in her holy body..." and the vessels are overlaid with gold within and with-out, the same with the Theotokos, carrying our Lord, who filled her with His Divinity, "within and with-out."  In same Theotokias, we sing "Hail to the undefiled vessel of the Divinity" and "Rejoice oh full of grace, the pure lampstand, who carried the Lamp, the Fire of Divinity."

What makes one think that this is merely a sign of just adoption, without actually partaking of the divine uncreated energies of God?  Was the Theotokos the only one able to do that, while the rest of humanity lurks as sub-human unpartakers of the divine nature?  Adoption does not occur without the Holy Spirit dwelling in us (and after all the Holy Spirit IS God) filling us with His divinity within and with-out, and being made worthy to partake of the Eucharist, the body of Christ united with His Divinity, which did not separate from His humanity for a single moment nor a twinkling of an eye.

This is Alexandrian theology.  The Cappodocians learned from this.  This is not something foreign to Athanasius or Cyril.  Read the hymns.  Theosis is at its heart.

God bless.

PS  Fr. Ambrose, you'll find a lot of interesting information in the link I posted pointing to a previous thread.  I think it has a lot to do with misunderstanding in language more than actual condemnation of a dogma.  In Arabic, it seems the heirarchs are trying to avoid anything that has to do with partaking of the divine essence of God.
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« Reply #32 on: April 14, 2009, 05:46:56 AM »

This is the same Coptic Church who sings "...the Theotokos Saint Mary, carried the Fire of Divinity, nine months in her holy body..." and the vessels are overlaid with gold within and with-out, the same with the Theotokos, carrying our Lord, who filled her with His Divinity, "within and with-out."  In same Theotokias, we sing "Hail to the undefiled vessel of the Divinity" and "Rejoice oh full of grace, the pure lampstand, who carried the Lamp, the Fire of Divinity."

What makes one think that this is merely a sign of just adoption, without actually partaking of the divine uncreated energies of God?  Was the Theotokos the only one able to do that, while the rest of humanity lurks as sub-human unpartakers of the divine nature? 

But the Theotokos did indeed carry the divine essence within her (though this is not to say that she somehow partook or became united with this essence), since Christ was God and man. This does not refer to theosis - the partaking of God's divine energies - which is common to mankind, but to something unique to the Virgin Mary: the conception and birthgiving of the Word of God incarnate. I think it would be dangerous to use the Virgin Mary's unique position as Theotokos to illustrate the doctrine of theosis. It is not something I've ever seen in a writing on the subject, and seems perilously close to heresy. Feel free to correct me.
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« Reply #33 on: April 14, 2009, 07:01:26 AM »

This is the same Coptic Church who sings "...the Theotokos Saint Mary, carried the Fire of Divinity, nine months in her holy body..." and the vessels are overlaid with gold within and with-out, the same with the Theotokos, carrying our Lord, who filled her with His Divinity, "within and with-out."  In same Theotokias, we sing "Hail to the undefiled vessel of the Divinity" and "Rejoice oh full of grace, the pure lampstand, who carried the Lamp, the Fire of Divinity."

What makes one think that this is merely a sign of just adoption, without actually partaking of the divine uncreated energies of God?  Was the Theotokos the only one able to do that, while the rest of humanity lurks as sub-human unpartakers of the divine nature? 

But the Theotokos did indeed carry the divine essence within her (though this is not to say that she somehow partook or became united with this essence), since Christ was God and man. This does not refer to theosis - the partaking of God's divine energies - which is common to mankind, but to something unique to the Virgin Mary: the conception and birthgiving of the Word of God incarnate. I think it would be dangerous to use the Virgin Mary's unique position as Theotokos to illustrate the doctrine of theosis. It is not something I've ever seen in a writing on the subject, and seems perilously close to heresy. Feel free to correct me.

I would think that the view that the incarnation was just the energies, not that she bore the essence, would lead to Adoptionism, i.e. the Man Christ was adopted as the Son.
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« Reply #34 on: April 14, 2009, 07:05:59 AM »

I would think that the view that the incarnation was just the energies, not that she bore the essence, would lead to Adoptionism, i.e. the Man Christ was adopted as the Son.

Indeed. Hence a direct connection between the Virgin Mary as Theotokos and our theosis (our becoming gods by grace, through partaking of the divine energies alone) seems to promote either a heretical understanding of theosis, wherein we partake of the divine essence, or a Nestorian understanding of the Incarnation.
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« Reply #35 on: April 14, 2009, 08:32:12 AM »

Thanks Father. I believe that this one will become very useful in our exchanges.  Wink
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« Reply #36 on: April 14, 2009, 02:38:09 PM »

I don't understand how anything I said can be to that effect.  I certainly don't believe in Adoptionism.  She carried the Logos Incarnate in her, who is fully divine and fully human.  Nevertheless, you can't say she carried the fullness of the Divine essence in her.  She carried the Logos, who filled her with His divinity (the divinity that truly belongs to Him) within and with-out.  She didn't simply carry the Logos, but the Logos even emanated His divinity all over her.

The emanation is the divine energies.  So yes, she is an example of theosis.  How can you carry the Logos without feeling the effects of theosis?  Isn't that the whole idea of the Eucharist?  That when we eat His Body, and Drink His Blood, we're not merely bearing the Logos in us, but through His humanity, He is emanating Divine Life to us.  That doesn't mean Christ only bore the Divine energies.  Neither should that mean she bore the whole essence of God.  Both would be blasphemous, imo.
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« Reply #37 on: April 14, 2009, 03:26:34 PM »

I don't understand how anything I said can be to that effect.  I certainly don't believe in Adoptionism.  She carried the Logos Incarnate in her, who is fully divine and fully human.  Nevertheless, you can't say she carried the fullness of the Divine essence in her. 
If the Son is the fullness of deity, then she did.

Quote
She carried the Logos, who filled her with His divinity (the divinity that truly belongs to Him) within and with-out.  She didn't simply carry the Logos, but the Logos even emanated His divinity all over her.

The emanation is the divine energies.  So yes, she is an example of theosis.  How can you carry the Logos without feeling the effects of theosis?  Isn't that the whole idea of the Eucharist?  That when we eat His Body, and Drink His Blood, we're not merely bearing the Logos in us, but through His humanity, He is emanating Divine Life to us.  That doesn't mean Christ only bore the Divine energies.  Neither should that mean she bore the whole essence of God.  Both would be blasphemous, imo.

That brings up another question: is the Divine Essence in the Eucharist?
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« Reply #38 on: April 14, 2009, 04:48:22 PM »

That brings up another question: is the Divine Essence in the Eucharist?

"Therefore we say that the body of Christ is divine because it is the body of God, and is brilliant with inexpressible glory, incorruptible, holy and life-giving. But that it was changed into the nature of divinity, no-one of the holy Fathers thought or said, nor do we affirm this." - St. Cyril of Alexandria

I understand this to mean that, while we partake of the Body of Christ, rightly called divine by virtue of the hypostatic union, we do not partake of the Divine Essence as such. Indeed, if we define God's essence as that which is transcendent and ineffable, while His energies is that which is knowable, to partake of His essence is by definition impossible.
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« Reply #39 on: April 14, 2009, 05:06:13 PM »

I don't understand how anything I said can be to that effect.  I certainly don't believe in Adoptionism.  She carried the Logos Incarnate in her, who is fully divine and fully human.  Nevertheless, you can't say she carried the fullness of the Divine essence in her.  She carried the Logos, who filled her with His divinity (the divinity that truly belongs to Him) within and with-out.  She didn't simply carry the Logos, but the Logos even emanated His divinity all over her.

My problem is with the way in which you took liturgical texts referring specifically to God taking flesh from the Virgin - a unique and unrepeatable act - and applied them to theosis, the goal of all humanity, whereby we become gods by grace (or adoption) through participation in the uncreated energies of God. I don't see how you can equate the two. The verses you quoted are simply an affirmation of the Incarnation, and do not speak of theosis.
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« Reply #40 on: April 14, 2009, 08:10:48 PM »

I don't understand how anything I said can be to that effect.  I certainly don't believe in Adoptionism.  She carried the Logos Incarnate in her, who is fully divine and fully human.  Nevertheless, you can't say she carried the fullness of the Divine essence in her. 
If the Son is the fullness of deity, then she did.

If the deity is enclosed in a space, aren't you limiting the divinity of God?  Or is the womb as powerful as God to bear His whole essence?

Didn't we learn from the fathers the distinction between hypostasis and ousia?  Are you saying she carried the Divine Ousia all within her?  Yes, she carried the Second Hypostasis of the Trinity within her, but how can one say the Divine Essence was also in her?  Is she the mother of the the essence of God too?

Quote
My problem is with the way in which you took liturgical texts referring specifically to God taking flesh from the Virgin

It's one thing to say the Logos took humanity from her.  It's another thing to say the Virgin carried the Fire of Divinity, both of which happened, but the texts I quoted specifically mentioned the latter.

Quote
Hail to the undeflied vessel:
of the Divinity:
who gives cures to everyone:
who drinks from it

This alludes to the Eucharist.  For the cup is likened to the Virgin Mary, who carried Christ, and we drink Him.
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« Reply #41 on: April 15, 2009, 01:47:18 AM »

Thought I'd share this edifying quote by St. Cyril who talks about what exactly we partake in the Eucharist.  He makes sure he says we don't partake of the Godhead, but goes explaining at great lengths that we don't merely partake of body and blood, but Life-Giving, for the Son is by Nature Life, as is the Father, and infuses Life into His Flesh and Blood, giving us Life.  This is in direct answer to Nestorius' question of whether eating the Eucharist was cannabalism or not, to which St. Cyril replied to the extent of if you're Nestorian, you're a cannabalist:

Quote
And how is the thing not plain cannibalism, and in what way is the Mystery yet lofty, unless we say that the Word out of God the Father has been sent, and confess that the mode of that sending was the Incarnation? For then, then we shall see clearly, that the Flesh which was united to Him and not another's flesh, avails to give Life, yet 'because it has been made the very own of Him who is mighty to quicken all things,' For if this visible fire infuses the force of its natural inherent power into those substances with which it comes in contact, and changes water itself though cold by nature into that which is contrary to its nature and makes it hot; what wonder or how can one disbelieve that the Word out of God the Father being the Life by Nature rendered the Flesh which is united to Him, Life-giving? for it is His very own and not that of another conceived of as apart from Him and of one of us. But if thou remove the Life-giving Word of God from the Mystical and true Union with His Body and sever them utterly, how canst thou shew that it is still Life-giving? And Who was it who said, He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me and I in him? If then it be a man by himself and the Word of God have not rather been made as we, the deed were cannibalism and wholly unprofitable the participation (for I hear Christ Himself say, The flesh profiteth nothing, it is the Spirit that quickeneth, for as far as pertains to its own nature, the flesh is corruptible, and will in no wise quicken others, sick itself of the decay that is its own): but if thou say that it is the Own Body of the Word Himself, why dost thou speak portentously and utter vain things, contending that not the very Word out of God the Father has been sent, but some other than of Him, "the visible," or His Flesh, albeit the God-inspired Scripture every where proclaimeth One Christ, full well affirming that the Word was made Man as we and defining herein the tradition of the right Faith.

But out of overmuch reverence, he blushes (it appears) at the measures of emptiness and endures not to see the Son Co-Eternal with God the Father, Him who is in the Form and Equality in everything with Him Who begat Him, come down unto lowliness: he finds fault with the economy and haply leaves not unblamed the Divine Counsel and Plan. For he pretends to investigate the force of the things said by Christ, and as it were taking in the depth of the ideas; then bringing round (as he thinks) my words to a seeming absurdity and ignorance; "Let us see, he says, who it is that mis-interprets. As the Living Father sent Me, for I live (according to him) God the "Word, because of the Father, and he that eateth Me he too shall live: which do we eat, the Godhead or the flesh?" Perceivest thou not therefore at length how thy mind is gone? for the Word of God saying that He is sent, says, he also that eateth Me, he too shall live. But WE eat, not consuming the Godhead (away with the folly) but the Very Flesh of the Word Which has been made Lifergiving, because it has been made His Who liveth because of the Father. And we do not say that by a participation from without and adventitious is the Word quickened by the Father, but rather we maintain that He is Life by Nature, for He has been begotten out of the Father who is Life. For as the sun's brightness which is sent forth, though it be said (for example) to be bright because of the sender, or of that out of which it comes, yet not of participation hath it the being bright, but as of natural nobility it weareth the Excellence of him who sent it or flashed it forth: in the same way and manner, I deem, even though the Son say that He lives because of the Father, will He bear witness to Himself His own Noble Birth from forth the Father, and not with the rest of the creation promiscuously, confess that He has Life imparted and from without.

And not just St. Cyril, but St. Athanasius (On the Incarnation) also talks about the infusion of Life into the flesh:

Quote
You must know, moreover, that the corruption which had set in was not external to the body but established within it. The need, therefore, was that life should cleave to it in corruption's place, so that, just as death was brought into being in the body, life also might be engendered in it. If death had been exterior to the body, life might fittingly have been the same. But if death was within the body, woven into its very substance and dominating it as though completely one with it, the need was for Life to be woven into it instead, so that the body by thus enduing itself with life might cast corruption off. Suppose the Word had come outside the body instead of in it, He would, of course, have defeated death, because death is powerless against the Life. But the corruption inherent in the body would have remained in it none the less. Naturally, therefore, the Savior assumed a body for Himself, in order that the body, being interwoven as it were with life, should no longer remain a mortal thing, in thrall to death, but as endued with immortality and risen from death, should thenceforth remain immortal. For once having put op corruption, it could not rise, unless it put on life instead; and besides this, death of its very nature could not appear otherwise than in a body. Therefore He put on a body, so that in the body He might find death and blot it out. And, indeed, how could the Lord have been proved to be the Life at all, had He not endued with life that which was subject to death? Take an illustration. Stubble is a substance naturally destructible by fire; and it still remains stubble, fearing the menace of fire which has the natural property of consuming it, even if fire is kept away from it, so that it is not actually burnt. But suppose that, instead of merely keeping the fire from it somebody soaks the stubble with a quantity of asbestos, the substance which is said to be the antidote to fire. Then the stubble no longer fears the fire, because it has put on that which fire cannot touch, and therefore it is safe. It is just the same with regard to the body and death. Had death been kept from it by a mere command, it would still have remained mortal and corruptible, according to its nature. To prevent this, it put on the incorporeal Word of God, and therefore fears neither death nor corruption any more, for it is clad with Life as with a garment and in it corruption is clean done away.

I don't see how this is NOT theosis for us.

And since we're getting closer to commemoration of the Last Supper, it's nice to reflect on the meaning of the Eucharist.

God bless.
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« Reply #42 on: April 15, 2009, 02:28:21 AM »

As far as I can gather there is no particular emphasis on any one soteriological model in any of the OO Churches. In that sense the OO differs from the EO Church inasmuch as it lacks both an emphatic focus on 'theosis' and an emphatic resistance to judicial models of Christ's saving work on the Cross. Both are clearly taught in one form or another but generally in their most basic form.

The OO Church seems to have a history of approaching with great caution any attempt to needlessly define and analyse basic theological concepts. The subconscious sentiment of the Church is that the mysteries of the Faith are to be honoured in reverent silence to the greatest degree possible--the threshold for breaking that silence being marked  by those circumstances in which the integrity of the Faith is being threatened by severe opposition.

In my humble opinion, I find that today a lot of theologising (especially as it occurs in discussions between laity) is not so concerned with the integrity of the Faith (and if at all, most times it's but an after-thought), but primarily driven either by curiosity, the basic human intuition to 'make sense' of things and/or the basic human intuition to progress and advance (which, in this context, plays out in the pursuit to consistently elaborate on, clarify with extra specificity, systemise, and substantiate the existing form of already established truths).

Some apt and edifying words from St Philoxenus of Mabug to consider:

"Now by simplicity is not to be understood the simplicity of the world, I mean stupidity, but the singleness of one thought (or mind) which is simple to hear and judgeth not, and which accepteth and enquireth not, after the manner of a child receiving the words from his nurse, and like a child also who receiveth the instruction of books from his master without criticising, or asking questions [concerning] those things which are said to him. For as the capacity of the child is too little to investigate human learning, so also is the measure of our mind too little to be able to understand the. explanation of divine Mysteries. "

And:

"Thou wast not called to search out the kingdom, neither its preparation nor construction, but only to be an heir and a guest, that thou mightest enjoy thyself out of the overflowing abundance of its spiritual delights."

And:

"And although man possesseth the speech of knowledge it was not given to him to judge the will of Him that made him, but that he might be a panegyrist of the knowledge which formed him; for the rational man is farther removed from the power of scrutinizing His Creator, than is the speechless vessel from the power of criticising him that made it. For the giving of thanks have we received speech from God our Creator, and in order that we may admire His created things hath He placed in us thoughts of knowledge. That we may perceive Him He hath made us to possess a sense of wisdom, and that we may receive a foretaste of His gracious acts hath He placed within our soul the sense of discernment. That we may see Him in His works He hath given to us the eye of faith which can see deeply into His secret things. God is too great to be investigated by the thoughts, and His dispensation surpasseth the seeking out of speech. And with His nature go also His works: for as His nature is inscrutable so also the deeds and actions of His nature cannot be sought out. And His will and wish cannot be judged, either for what reason hath He willed thus, or for what reason hath He done thus; for as He cannot be judged by us as to why He hath made us in this form, and why He hath formed us, and placed us in the world in this order of constitution, so also none of His wishes can be found fault with by us, either as to why He willed thus, [p. 28] or why He performed."
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« Reply #43 on: April 15, 2009, 07:33:11 AM »

As far as I can gather there is no particular emphasis on any one soteriological model in any of the OO Churches. In that sense the OO differs from the EO Church inasmuch as it lacks both an emphatic focus on 'theosis' and an emphatic resistance to judicial models of Christ's saving work on the Cross. Both are clearly taught in one form or another but generally in their most basic form.

The OO Church seems to have a history of approaching with great caution any attempt to needlessly define and analyse basic theological concepts. The subconscious sentiment of the Church is that the mysteries of the Faith are to be honoured in reverent silence to the greatest degree possible--the threshold for breaking that silence being marked  by those circumstances in which the integrity of the Faith is being threatened by severe opposition.

In my humble opinion, I find that today a lot of theologising (especially as it occurs in discussions between laity) is not so concerned with the integrity of the Faith (and if at all, most times it's but an after-thought), but primarily driven either by curiosity, the basic human intuition to 'make sense' of things and/or the basic human intuition to progress and advance (which, in this context, plays out in the pursuit to consistently elaborate on, clarify with extra specificity, systemise, and substantiate the existing form of already established truths).

Thank you for this post.
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« Reply #44 on: April 15, 2009, 07:47:55 AM »

I don't understand how anything I said can be to that effect.  I certainly don't believe in Adoptionism.  She carried the Logos Incarnate in her, who is fully divine and fully human.  Nevertheless, you can't say she carried the fullness of the Divine essence in her. 
If the Son is the fullness of deity, then she did.

If the deity is enclosed in a space, aren't you limiting the divinity of God?

No.  Spatial dimension has no meaning for Divinity.

Quote
  Or is the womb as powerful as God to bear His whole essence?

I recall a Coptic hymn whose beginning sums up Mariology:

Let us praise the Pure Virgin
Who held within her
Him Whom the heavens could not hold.

We EOs just finished (unfortunately, I wish we heard it more) the Theotokion of St. Basil:
All of creation rejoices in you
O Full of Grace!
The ranks of angels and the race of men.
O Santified Temple and Spritual Paradise
The Glory of Virgins
From whom God became incarnate and became a child
Our God from before the ages.
He made your body into a Throne
And your womb He made more spacious than the heavens.
All of Creation rejoices in you!
O Full of Grace, Glory to you!

Quote
Didn't we learn from the fathers the distinction between hypostasis and ousia?  Are you saying she carried the Divine Ousia all within her? 

As far as the hypostasis of the Son carries the ousia, yes.  The Man Christ was not united to an energy of God, but to the Godhead of the Son.

Quote
Yes, she carried the Second Hypostasis of the Trinity within her, but how can one say the Divine Essence was also in her?

Colossians 2:9 "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily"

Quote
  Is she the mother of the the essence of God too?

That's akin to asking "is she the source of Christ's divinity."
My problem is with the way in which you took liturgical texts referring specifically to God taking flesh from the Virgin - a unique and unrepeatable act - and applied them to theosis, the goal of all humanity, whereby we become gods by grace (or adoption) through participation in the uncreated energies of God. I don't see how you can equate the two. The verses you quoted are simply an affirmation of the Incarnation, and do not speak of theosis.

It's one thing to say the Logos took humanity from her.  It's another thing to say the Virgin carried the Fire of Divinity, both of which happened, but the texts I quoted specifically mentioned the latter.

Quote
Hail to the undeflied vessel:
of the Divinity:
who gives cures to everyone:
who drinks from it

This alludes to the Eucharist.  For the cup is likened to the Virgin Mary, who carried Christ, and we drink Him.


That brings up another question: is the Divine Essence in the Eucharist?

"Therefore we say that the body of Christ is divine because it is the body of God, and is brilliant with inexpressible glory, incorruptible, holy and life-giving. But that it was changed into the nature of divinity, no-one of the holy Fathers thought or said, nor do we affirm this." - St. Cyril of Alexandria

I understand this to mean that, while we partake of the Body of Christ, rightly called divine by virtue of the hypostatic union, we do not partake of the Divine Essence as such. Indeed, if we define God's essence as that which is transcendent and ineffable, while His energies is that which is knowable, to partake of His essence is by definition impossible.

I take it that communion is akin to the Theotokos carrying Christ within her, as shown in the corret, traditional iconography: she is shown with a red covering, the fire of divinity, because she carried divinity in her, but her inner clothing is blue, because she was by nature human and remained so even when God took flesh from her.  Christ is clad in reverse: his inner clothing is red as He is by nature divine, but his outer cloak is blue, as He assumed human nature.

As far as I can gather there is no particular emphasis on any one soteriological model in any of the OO Churches. In that sense the OO differs from the EO Church inasmuch as it lacks both an emphatic focus on 'theosis' and an emphatic resistance to judicial models of Christ's saving work on the Cross. Both are clearly taught in one form or another but generally in their most basic form.

The OO Church seems to have a history of approaching with great caution any attempt to needlessly define and analyse basic theological concepts. The subconscious sentiment of the Church is that the mysteries of the Faith are to be honoured in reverent silence to the greatest degree possible--the threshold for breaking that silence being marked  by those circumstances in which the integrity of the Faith is being threatened by severe opposition.

In my humble opinion, I find that today a lot of theologising (especially as it occurs in discussions between laity) is not so concerned with the integrity of the Faith (and if at all, most times it's but an after-thought), but primarily driven either by curiosity, the basic human intuition to 'make sense' of things and/or the basic human intuition to progress and advance (which, in this context, plays out in the pursuit to consistently elaborate on, clarify with extra specificity, systemise, and substantiate the existing form of already established truths).

Thank you for this post.

Thanks indeed!
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« Reply #45 on: April 15, 2009, 08:55:27 AM »

We EOs just finished (unfortunately, I wish we heard it more) the Theotokion of St. Basil:
All of creation rejoices in you
O Full of Grace!
The ranks of angels and the race of men.
O Santified Temple and Spritual Paradise
The Glory of Virgins
From whom God became incarnate and became a child
Our God from before the ages.
He made your body into a Throne
And your womb He made more spacious than the heavens.
All of Creation rejoices in you!
O Full of Grace, Glory to you!

What do you mean finished? My HTM Horologion appoints this to be read at the end of every Small Compline, after "Unto thee do I commit mine every hope...."
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« Reply #46 on: April 15, 2009, 09:38:17 AM »

We EOs just finished (unfortunately, I wish we heard it more) the Theotokion of St. Basil:
All of creation rejoices in you
O Full of Grace!
The ranks of angels and the race of men.
O Santified Temple and Spritual Paradise
The Glory of Virgins
From whom God became incarnate and became a child
Our God from before the ages.
He made your body into a Throne
And your womb He made more spacious than the heavens.
All of Creation rejoices in you!
O Full of Grace, Glory to you!

What do you mean finished? My HTM Horologion appoints this to be read at the end of every Small Compline, after "Unto thee do I commit mine every hope...."

When is the next small compline scheduled?
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« Reply #47 on: April 15, 2009, 09:41:00 AM »

When is the next small compline scheduled?

Pretty much every day of the year - besides mondays, tuesdays, and thursdays of Lent - before you go to bed.
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« Reply #48 on: April 15, 2009, 09:51:13 AM »

When is the next small compline scheduled?

Pretty much every day of the year - besides mondays, tuesdays, and thursdays of Lent - before you go to bed.

I was talking about the Church as a whole.
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« Reply #49 on: April 15, 2009, 12:35:12 PM »

I've always thought that when considering the One Who she held in her womb, He is truly the hypostasis of the Logos in incarnate form.  Therefore, I don't deny the Lord being fully divine and full human.  St. Cyril always stressed the idea that "Mother of God" equates mother of the hypostasis Who took flesh from her and made it His very own.

At the same time, I always believed that the essence of the Godhead is by nature uncontainable.  As the womb created, as our bodies our created, and probably even the heavens are created filled with the created angelic hosts, nothing can contain the Godhead.  The poetic language used in hymns are show the preference of the Logos to place His throne, to point to where the true altar and the Holy of Holies are.  The Burning Bush is has bush (created matter) and had a seeable fire that represented the emanation of the Godhead.  When you can see the divinity, do you see the Godhead, the essence itself?  The fathers tell us "No," not even the angels in heaven can see it.

Here's a Theotokia from our hymns that I was alluding to:

Quote
And they made an Ark
of Shittim wood
and overlaid it with gold
with-in and with-out

You too Oh Mary
are clothed with the glory
of the Divinity
with-in and with-out

For you have brought
many people
unto God your Son
through your purity

I suppose this doesn't disprove holding the essence of Godhead in her too.  So then I have a question.  Can we then hold the essence in us too?  I'm ready to stand corrected if there's a a distinction between partaking of the Unpartakable and containing the Uncontainable.  Can I for instance have the fullness of the Godhead be contained in me via the Eucharist?

Quote
TRULY, it is appropriate and right
to sing praise to you; to bless You,
to serve You, to worship you, and to
glorify You; O one and only true God, the
lover of mankind; the ineffable; the
unseen; the uncontainable; without
beginning; the eternal ; the timeless; the
limitless; the unsearchable; the
unchanging; the Creator of all; the
Saviour of everyone. (Coptic Liturgy of St. Gregory)


God bless.
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« Reply #50 on: April 15, 2009, 01:05:24 PM »

^ The bible says that all the fullness of the deity dwelt in Christ in bodily form. Would that not mean also his essence? Then would not that mean that the essence and energies of God were some how present in the womb of Mary? Am I wrong?
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« Reply #51 on: April 15, 2009, 01:14:22 PM »

^ The bible says that all the fullness of the deity dwelt in Christ in bodily form. Would that not mean also his essence? Then would not that mean that the essence and energies of God were some how present in the womb of Mary? Am I wrong?

I don't know...I guess this is a matter I need to contemplate on.  The question I'm asking is how can we call someone or something "Uncontainable" and then "contained?"  Could it be that the verse talks about not a mere bearing of God as in any prophet, but true and personal involvement of the body as it belongs truly to the Logos?  That this not a mere union as one between people, but a true hypostatic union.
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« Reply #52 on: April 15, 2009, 01:16:03 PM »

^ The bible says that all the fullness of the deity dwelt in Christ in bodily form. Would that not mean also his essence? Then would not that mean that the essence and energies of God were some how present in the womb of Mary? Am I wrong?

I don't know...I guess this is a matter I need to contemplate on.  The question I'm asking is how can we call someone or something "Uncontainable" and then "contained?"  Could it be that the verse talks about not a mere bearing of God as in any prophet, but true and personal involvement of the body as it belongs truly to the Logos?  That this not a mere union as one between people, but a true hypostatic union.
I don't know that we literally believe the entirety of God's infinite essence/energies were contained in the womb. We need to do some more reading on this topic. Also, I need to clarify the fact that I see the essence/energies distinction as a true distinction from the human point of view, but not an ontological distinction in God.
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« Reply #53 on: April 15, 2009, 05:40:00 PM »

The question I'm asking is how can we call someone or something "Uncontainable" and then "contained?" 

"All we the generations call thee blessed, O Virgin Theotokos, for in thee He, the Uncontainable One, Christ our God, was pleased to be contained..." - Theotokion from the Midnight Service for weekdays.
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« Reply #54 on: April 15, 2009, 07:54:59 PM »


The OO Church seems to have a history of approaching with great caution any attempt to needlessly define and analyse basic theological concepts. The subconscious sentiment of the Church is that the mysteries of the Faith are to be honoured in reverent silence to the greatest degree possible--the threshold for breaking that silence being marked  by those circumstances in which the integrity of the Faith is being threatened by severe opposition

Thank you, EA!  The other day, on another thread in another section, I was telling about a lecture by a deacon at my church who basically said the same thing.  I couldn't remember exactly his words, but this sums up what he said.

I think this is at the root of a lot of misunderstandings here.  There is a tendency to take   the fact that the OO's have not formulated an elaborate statement on something and draw the conclusion that we must therefore support or reject a particular doctrine.  That, however, is not necessarily the case.  Thank you again for explaining this so well.
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« Reply #55 on: April 15, 2009, 08:50:29 PM »

The question I'm asking is how can we call someone or something "Uncontainable" and then "contained?" 

"All we the generations call thee blessed, O Virgin Theotokos, for in thee He, the Uncontainable One, Christ our God, was pleased to be contained..." - Theotokion from the Midnight Service for weekdays.

I don't know.  I think this can be interpreted either way.  The One Who is Uncontainable became containable humanly.
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« Reply #56 on: April 28, 2009, 01:19:57 AM »

I'd just like to note that I had the pleasure of reading some translations of works of various Copto-Arabic Saints/Theologians (e.g. St Severus Ibn Al Muqaffa, Paulos Al-Bushi etc) addressing common Islamic challenges to the Incarnation--challenges to the effect of questioning the necessity and logic of God becoming man.

I was particularly impressed and inspired (and even somewhat amused) by an answer given by Paulos Al-Bushi who, using the highest level of literary sophistication of his time, answered with the utmost simplicity to the effect of: "God doesn't do anything superfluously; if He became man, He had a reason for it. Period."

From the perspective of Logic101 this is an exemplary example of circular reasoning. From the perspective of Orthodoxy101 this is an exemplary example of a humble apophaticism that shies away from probing into the mysteries of God and a genuine conviction that feels no need to probe into the mysteries of God even in the face of skepticism.
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« Reply #57 on: April 28, 2009, 10:15:51 AM »

I'm reading further into these recently available english translations of various saintly Copto-Arabic writers, and I am in awe!

Another author has addressed the question of 'Did God need to become man?' in a most inspiring way. Abba Yahya Ibn-Adi essentially answered to the effect of: yes, it was necessary for God to become man insofar as a) He is necessarily generous in essence and b) the act of becoming man was an expression of His generosity.
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« Reply #58 on: May 21, 2009, 11:43:42 AM »

My most recent entry in the Wisdom of the OO Fathers thread further reinforces the fact that an emphasis on theosis in the Coptic Orthodox tradition extended well beyond the Arabisation/Islamisation of Egypt:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12005.msg323353.html#msg323353

In the above quote, Abba Paulos al-Bushi asserts that evidence to the fact that God became man is to be found in the ability of the Saints of the Church (i.e. men) to become like God.
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« Reply #59 on: June 28, 2009, 07:03:50 AM »

There seems to be a lot of dispute now over topics like theosis, with sides forming with some following EO spirituality and some rejecting it. I don't know much about what's going on though.

If you do a www.google.com search you will find information on the controversy on theosis, between Pope Shenouda and Fr Matta the Poor.   

Use the words:   matta pope shenouda theosis
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Deification of Man and the Interpretation of "Partakers of the Divine Nature" (2 Pet 1:4)

http://www.metroplit-bishoy.org/english/index.htm
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« Reply #60 on: June 28, 2009, 10:44:05 AM »

The above post was split off from the following thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,22014.new.html#new
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